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Holiday vs. Vacation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 3, 2023
A holiday is a specific day of celebration or observance, often statutory, while a vacation is a period of leisure and time off from work or school.

Key Differences

Holiday refers to designated days of celebration or commemoration, often recognized by a community or nation. Vacation, on the other hand, is a personal time off, typically for rest, travel, or leisure.
Holidays are often marked by cultural, religious, or national significance, such as Christmas or Independence Day. Vacations are periods chosen by individuals or families to take a break from their regular routines.
In many countries, holidays come with certain traditions or customs and can be public, with offices and schools closed. Vacations are more flexible, with people planning their own activities and destinations.
Holidays can be fixed dates in a calendar, while vacations are typically planned and scheduled at the discretion of individuals. This reflects how holidays are communal, whereas vacations are personal.
Holiday celebrations often involve specific rituals or festivities unique to that day. Vacations, however, are characterized by personal relaxation and activities chosen by the vacationers.

Comparison Chart


Specific days of celebration or observance.
Periods of leisure and time off.


Fixed, often statutory.
Flexible, based on personal choice.


Cultural, religious, or national significance.
Personal rest, travel, and leisure.


Predetermined by calendar.
Scheduled at individual discretion.


Traditions and customs specific to the day.
Varied, depending on personal preferences.

Holiday and Vacation Definitions


A holiday often involves traditional activities or customs.
Lighting fireworks is a popular activity on the Fourth of July holiday.


Vacation time is often used for leisure activities, exploring new places, or resting.
Their summer vacation was filled with beach days and sightseeing.


Public holidays usually mean a day off from work and school.
Banks and government offices are closed on federal holidays.


Vacations can be taken alone, with family, or with friends.
He went on a solo vacation to find some peace and quiet.


A holiday is a day set aside for special significance, often a celebration or observance.
Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States.


A vacation is a period of time spent away from home or work for relaxation or travel.
They went to Hawaii for a two-week vacation.


Holidays can be religious, like Christmas, or secular, like Independence Day.
Many people exchange gifts during the Christmas holiday.


Vacations can be short getaways or extended trips.
She took a long weekend vacation to the countryside.


Holidays can be local, national, or international in scope.
New Year's Day is a holiday celebrated around the world.


People typically plan and save for vacations.
They're planning a vacation to Europe next year.


A day free from work that one may spend at leisure, especially a day on which custom or the law dictates a halting of general business activity to commemorate or celebrate a particular event.


A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee.


A religious feast day; a holy day.


A holiday.


Is Christmas a holiday or vacation?

Christmas is a holiday.

Can a holiday be a vacation?

Sometimes, if the holiday period is used for leisure travel.

Do all countries have the same holidays?

No, holidays often reflect cultural and national differences.

What is a holiday?

A day of celebration or observance, often with cultural or religious significance.

Is every public holiday a religious holiday?

No, some are secular, like Independence Day.

What’s the most popular holiday?

It varies by culture, but Christmas and New Year's are widely celebrated.

Are national holidays the same worldwide?

No, they vary by country.

What is a vacation?

A period of time for rest, travel, or leisure away from usual activities.

Do people work on holidays?

Usually not, especially on public holidays.

Are school holidays and public holidays the same?

Not always; schools may have additional breaks.

Is vacation time mandatory in all jobs?

It depends on the country and job regulations.

Are all vacations expensive?

No, they can range from budget-friendly to luxurious.

How long can a vacation last?

It varies, from a few days to several weeks.

Are vacations paid?

It depends on the employer's policies.

Why are holidays important?

They celebrate cultural, religious, or historical events.

How do people choose vacation destinations?

Based on interests, budget, and time available.

Why do people go on vacation?

For relaxation, adventure, or experiencing new places.

Can holidays be moved to a different date?

Some holidays are fixed, while others can shift annually.

Can a weekend be a vacation?

Yes, if used for a short trip or leisure activities.

Do holidays affect vacation planning?

Yes, people often plan vacations around holidays.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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